H. Neal Glanville: That’s just life in Craig
October 6, 2008
Yup, I like Craig.
I’ve always liked it, and when I’ve gone away on one adventure or another, she’s been in my heart. I’d tell stories of small-town life that people in big cities found hard to believe. I’d always smile and say, “That’s just life in Craig.”
It was 38 years ago, my former wife, three small girls and I showed up on Craig’s doorstep. We had as close to nothing as you can get. We lived for a while in our hot rod ’64 Chevy at the north end of Craig City Park. The girls thought they were in heaven living in a park with their very own swings and teeter-totters. Melissa, my youngest girl, had her first birthday there. We had hot dogs with Spaghetti-Os and a frozen coconut cake. As birthdays go, it was one of the best I can remember.
The next afternoon, we found a note on the car windshield from Bowman Logging. I had a job.
I can honestly say, out loud or on paper, that operating a skidster from dawn till dark :30 is the hardest I’ve ever worked. I doubt I could count on one hand any other men who were as proud of what they did as the Bowman family.
Each day, while I was on Black Mountain, my wife looked for a place for us to live. That must have been sight: A young woman, with three kids in tow, walking all over Craig looking for a home.
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One morning, she stopped at the Midwest Cafe for something and started talking to one of waitresses. After fussing about the girls a bit, the waitress just smiled and said, “Let’s walk up to the machine shop and talk to Walt Cisar.”
We were still days away from a paycheck, but Mr. Cisar took my wife’s word and rented us the two-bedroom apartment over what is now Serendipity Coffee Shop on Yampa Avenue. That Sunday, as I drove the car to our new home, we ran out of gas at Sixth and Tucker. As Craig would have it, men appeared from nowhere and helped pushed the car to our new home and then helped us move in. The next morning, I found an empty 5-gallon gas can beside the car with a scribbled note stuck in the spout. Pass it on, was all it said.
Yup, I like Craig.
Each time I return, it’s as though I’ve never left. Sure, there have been changes. Some good, a few that make you stop and ask, “Whose idea was that?”
I remember the signs going up on the north end of town, restricting the use of Jake brakes. For weeks afterwards, every tractor trailer or logging truck that rolled into town made sure theirs worked. … The noise from using an air brake to slow down may not seem like much, especially with the musical noise that comes from some of our cars and trucks, but to the commercial and independent truckers, the noise they created was beside the point. The fact that someone, anyone, would put up a sign telling them what they could or couldn’t do made them mad. Their recourse was limited to obeying the sign or not; the drivers, as individuals, chose not to.
Were they right? That doesn’t matter. What really matters is they voiced their opinion the only way they could.
Did they win? Nope, never stood a chance. But they stood up for what they thought was right.
That, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, is just one of the many reasons I love our small little corner of the world.
Mr. Alex Urie had it right. He once ask his grandson and me if we knew why the wind blew so much around here. No, we both moaned. He turned his head back as he hobbled away, “most every place else sucks,” he answered, chuckling.
There I was, surrounded on two sides, and I said to myself, “Self,” I said (cuz that’s what I call myself when I’m talking to myself), “you’ve been fly fishing all day and haven’t caught squat. What are you going to do now?” “Well, self,” I said, “I’m going to tie on the biggest, ugliest thing I can find in my pocket and peg it out there.” Huwyaw.
Thank you for your time.